Moments when you’re thankful to be breastfeeding your toddler

It’s past the six-month, twelve-month, eighteen-month, two-year or whatever mark people around you thought you’d stop at. You’re still breastfeeding your toddler and they can’t understand why. Maybe it’s because they’re not the ones there to enjoy these moments.

You’re thankful to still be breastfeeding your toddler when:

Your toddler’s sick and can’t keep anything else down
We’ve been through this a couple of times and each time I’ve been so grateful that I can give Talitha the most easily digested food, human milk.

One of her bugs didn’t allow her to keep even that down, though. Still, it was a relief that the breast could comfort her and that even if she was throwing up, she was still getting something from my milk.

She threw up yesterday and though it was a one-time thing – so, not viral I don’t think – she was only interested in fruit and crackers. Of course she wanted to up her feeds, which meant that I wasn’t worried she was going hungry or likely to get dehydrated.

This moment alone is enough to make me think it’s a pretty good idea to continue to breastfeed children while their immune systems are immature.

Your child has lost it with that tantrum

I know I probably haven’t seen anything yet in this department since she’s not yet two and we haven’t yet encountered the total mentalness I hear three can be (take a look at this hilarious post 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out).

That said, we have had some pretty intense tantrums round these parts. I’m getting better at figuring out what I’m doing with them but quite a lot of the time, cuddle and boob quick enough can either stop one from going full-blown or can bring her back to me once she’s calmed down a little. Sometimes it even does the calming.

You discover the benefits of natural child spacing

My brother and I are very close in age. We’re fourteen months apart. Growing up I liked that age gap. I think, really, I just liked (well, like) my brother. And now that I have my own child I think: my poor mother.

We were never going to have children that close, seeing as my cycles didn’t even return until seventeen months postpartum. Lactational amenorrhea is an amazing thing. I raged against it when I got broody while Talitha was much younger but further along this journey I appreciate that by continuing to breastfeed, she’s helping my body to take the time to fully recover from the huge task of giving birth. My body is also making sure that it meets the needs of the baby I already have before prioritising the needs of another that’s so far a figment of my imagination. Well done, baby and body!

You want to sleep
Thankfully, Talitha still breastfeeds to sleep (most of the time, anyway). This allows us to have easy, calm naptimes. If I feel like it, I can stay with her and grab some sleep too. We still bedshare so if she stirs at night I can flop a boob out and seconds later, we’re all asleep again. In fact, I’m often tempted to tell people she sleeps through. What I really mean is, I feel like I do.

Your child goes through food fads

I keep hearing it’s a phase but we’re over six months into Talitha’s extremely fussy eating and it only seems to be getting marginally better. I continue to offer her a broad range of foods so I feel I’m doing my part. Knowing that she has access to the breast to fill in any nutritional gaps really sets my mind at ease.

You’ve been apart all day and need to reconnect
Talitha’s started going to a childminder one day a week. It’s a long day because I still don’t drive yet and the childminder lives a fair way away by bus. So Laurence drops and picks her up before and after work.

It’s quite a long separation for both of us but she makes up for it by feeding as soon as we get home and checking in with lots of feeds the next day. When I was taking the bus to go pick her up, I’d have to factor time sitting on the sofa at the childminder’s to feed her as soon as she saw me because it was the first thing she wanted to do!

This is just another indicator to me that her emotional need to be mothered in this way, though gradually fading, is still strong. It’s such an easy way to meet that need – a sweet one too.

So, mothers breastfeeding toddlers, what moments make you thankful that you’re still breastfeeding them?

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  • Arlo is coming up to two and a half and we are still plodding away with the breastfeeding.

    Somewhere between 1 and 2 years old he went through a really demanding phase where he wanted to feed every five minutes, but things have now evened out again. We have a very relaxed morning and evening feed, he doesn’t ask any more during the day (which suits me!), and he’s also happy to have anyone to put him to bed and forgo his bedtime milk. 6 times out of 7 he sleeps right the way through to morning. Breastfeeding has never been this easy (and I’m 30 weeks pregnant!)

    The biggest benefits for us at the moment are similar to what you’ve listed in your post – he currently exists on a diet of dairy and carbs, so I’m happy that he’s getting extra nutrition from my milk. It’s the only way I know how to parent when he’s poorly. And I’m really hoping his continued breastfeeding will help strengthen and reconfirm our bond (and maybe also his bond with the baby) when a newborn arrives into the house and completely changes his world.
    Chloe (from Chloe Witters) recently posted..Life in the ‘Squeezed Middle’

    • No doubt breastfeeding will be very useful when the new baby is here! How great that breastfeeding while pregnant is going so well. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • That moment when they’re scared, really scared – for us it was an asthma attack, for others I know its been when they’ve looked round in a crowd and not able to see familiar knees, for others it has been a bad tumble… whatever it is – there is an instant ‘return’, calming soothing, acknowledging the fear, let them know they are loved and safe.

  • Yes to all your reasons and more. Breastfeeding was like a reset button and when he got all irrational it was like it enabled him to pop his brain back in gear. No idea how people manage without such a valuable tool when mothering toddlers!
    The time I was most thankful to be feeding a toddler though was the time he tripped over, went flying and cut open his head on the kitchen door. His forehead was pouring blood, he was utterly hysterical and I wasn’t much better! It was very scary. Breastfeeding calmed us both down very quickly so we could get him cleaned up and to the hospital for paper stitches.

    • Breastfeeding is such an effective pain reliever. I’d never thought about the way it soothes fears like that too.

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